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All MCU Appearances, Ranked by Rotten Tomatoes Score

The Dog Days are over, and so is this era of the Guardians of the Galaxy. After nine years, James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy has come to an end, although the characters will live on in our hearts forever. The ragtag team had a stronger family dynamic than that of the Avengers, with each member finding belonging after having lived as an outsider.

Now that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has finally been released, fans are looking back on all seven of their appearances in the MCU. The Guardians did not just appear in Gunn’s films, but appeared in two Avengers films, a Thor film, and a holiday special. Here’s a look at all seven of the Guardians of the Galaxy’s appearances in the MCU, ranked by their score on Rotten Tomatoes.



7 Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) — 63%

Marvel Studios

After joining the Guardians at the end of Avengers: Endgame, Thor was immediately separated from his cosmic team in Thor: Love and Thunder. The Guardians had such limited screentime in Love and Thunder that it’s easy to forget they were in the film at all. During the film’s opening battle, the Guardians simply watched as Thor single-handedly defeated an army of marauders. With nothing to do, the Guardians left the Thor film franchise as quickly as they had entered it.

Thor: Love and Thunder did not receive the same love as Thor: Ragnarok, receiving a 63% from Rotten Tomatoes-approved critics. Fans have also not been kind towards the film, with many considering it to be one of the worst films in the MCU. Tonal inconsistency, various sequences featuring questionable CGI, and an overload of goofiness were among the film’s main points of criticism.

6 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023) — 81%

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Marvel Studios

Marvel fans have been calling Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 the best in the franchise, but on Rotten Tomatoes, the film has the lowest score out of all the titular films. Some critics found the film to be overstuffed, too reliant on the “MCU formula,” and overall, unsatisfying. It was even considered by some critics to be the worst film in the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy.

Other critics, however, found the film to be an emotional send-off to the MCU’s first iteration of the Guardians. By centering on the franchise’s secret protagonist in Rocket (via IGN), Vol. 3 honed in on the franchise’s core themes of family, personal loss, and self-acceptance. The trilogy-capper tugged at the heartstrings more than any previous Guardians film, and it seems to have worked for most of the general audience.

Related: Dave Bautista Is ‘Forever Grateful’ for Guardians of the Galaxy Role

5 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) — 85%

Marvel Studios

If the first Guardians of the Galaxy was about becoming a family, then Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was about being one. Rather than being plot-driven, the 2017 sequel was very character-driven, evolving each of the Guardians in new and interesting ways. Peter Quill was reunited with his father, Ego, but upon learning that he was a power-hungry narcissist, Peter grew closer to his found family. As mentioned by Yondu, Ego may have been Peter’s father, but he wasn’t his daddy.

Vol. 2 proved that the Guardians of the Galaxywere not just a one-hit wonder, positioning them to become some of the most beloved characters in the MCU. It was because of the character work done in the sequel that the Guardians were able to rise to super-star status with Avengers: Infinity War. Although Vol. 2 was considered not to be as fresh as its predecessor (an unfair metric to judge the film against due to its status as a sequel), it accomplished everything it needed to accomplish. It was the final Guardians of the Galaxy film to feature the original Gamora.

4 Avengers: Infinity War (2018) — 85%

Gamora promo for Avengers: Infinity War.
Marvel Studios

Avengers: Infinity War was a Thanos movie, and because of his connections to Gamora and Nebula, the Guardians of the Galaxy had a large role in the film. Following a spectacular entrance soundtracked to “The Rubberband Man” by The Spinners, the Guardians rescued a one-eyed Thor adrift in space.

While Thor, Rocket, and Groot traveled to Nidavellir to create Stormbreaker, Quill, Gamora, Mantis, and Drax headed for Knowhere to protect the Reality Stone. The Guardians’ mission to Knowhere did not go as planned, resulting in Gamora being kidnapped and leading to her death. Both Infinity War and Vol. 2 received an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, but Infinity War has a higher audience score than Vol. 2 by 5%.

3 Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) — 92%

The Guardians of the Galaxy team up.
Marvel Studios

In the lead-up to 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the press claimed that the film would become “Marvel’s first flop.” That turned out not to be the case as Guardians of the Galaxy became the highest-grossing Marvel film of the year and one of the best-reviewed films in the entire MCU. Equipped with a perfectly curated soundtrack, solid visual effects, and strong direction and script, Guardians of the Galaxy was an incredible space adventure with a band of lovable misfits. A group of obscure comic-book characters was taken by Gunn and turned into household names.

Sitting at a 92% on the Tomatometer, Guardians of the Galaxy has a higher score than The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Had the film failed, the MCU and pop culture as we know it would look a lot different today. It’s likely Marvel would have become more hesitant to adapting lesser-known characters for the screen.

Related: Chris Pratt Calls Out Press Claiming Guardians of the Galaxy Would Be Marvel’s First Flop

2 The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022) — 93%

Promotional art for The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
Marvel Studios

Released after Werewolf by Night, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special was the second of the “Marvel Studios Special Presentations.” The Disney+ special followed Drax and Mantis on a quest to find Quill the ultimate Christmas present. Aware of Quill’s love for the 1980s classic, Footloose, the two Guardians arrived on Earth to search for Kevin Bacon.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special was full of heartwarming moments and made history as the first MCU entry to not feature a villain. Rotten Tomatoes has given The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special a 93%, making it the highest-ranking Guardians of the Galaxy project.

1 Avengers: Endgame (2019) — 94%

Rocket and Nebula at the beginning of Avengers: Endgame.
Marvel Studios

With Star-Lord, Groot, Mantis, and Drax becoming victims of the Snap, only Rocket and Nebula remained at the beginning of Avengers: Endgame. The two Guardians became Avengers and participated in the Time Heist to retrieve the Infinity Stones. Rocket also worked with Bruce Banner and Tony Stark to create the Nano Gauntlet, which was used by Banner to resurrect the victims of the Snap. Resurrected, the fallen Guardians arrived to fight against the forces of Thanos.

Endgame was primarily focused on the original six Avengers, so the Guardians took a back seat in the film as supporting characters. However, Endgame was still an essential part of the Guardians saga, playing an important role in Rocket and Nebula’s character arcs. Additionally, the introduction of an alternate Gamora complicated Quill’s ability to move forward, setting up a new narrative thread for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

This story originally appeared on Movieweb

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